Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
The First Amendment assumes that the proper sphere of government is policies, not values. And so it protects the right of political participation and prohibits a state church that would define values.
The government had the right to decide to go to war with France. It did not have a right to decide what you should believe. Politics extended into the realm of policies, not beliefs.
But as religious belief declined, politics replaced it as the repository of moral and ethical values. This transformation began on the left. The left was the least religious in the traditional sense. And the most likely to build up an ideology of secular values with which to displace traditional religious values.
The last century witnessed an extensive effort to scrub religious values out of government. But this effort was matched by an equally comprehensive project to replace them with the left’s own values. Unlike the wall between church and state, there were few legal safeguards against writing values into legislation if they were irreligious ones. The church was deemed to be the true threat. Not the state.
But the end result looks very much like an establishment of religion. Even in the church sense.
The values written into the legislation reflect those of certain churches, but not others. When nuns are forced to pay for birth control and Christian photographers with traditional beliefs are compelled to participate in gay weddings, the government is picking religious establishment “winners and losers”.
The winners are roughly on the religious left and the losers on the religious right.
Unitarians win, Baptists lose. Quakers win, Mormons lose. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) triumphs over the Presbyterian Church in America. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America prevails over the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It’s hard not to see this as an establishment of religion.
This isn’t about doctrinal battles or gay marriage. It’s about the culture war fallout from the left’s power to write its values into law and into the codes of conduct that hold sway in in private organizations.
We take the truth of our values on faith. They are a matter of subjective conviction, not objective fact. To those who believe in them, they appear to be the absolute truths of the enlightened. But they cannot be proven to be true in any meaningful way. You either believe in them. Or you don’t.
Google fired James Damore for questioning a tenet of its beliefs. That is in theory illegal. The search engine monopoly created forums in which employees were meant to discuss these very issues. Damore was not fired for expressing his views at work, but for politely expressing the “incorrect” view.
California law protects employees fired for both religious and political views. But the “hostile workplace” pretext that led to Damore’s firing is an example of how the left’s values are the basis of legislation. Much as “public accommodation” civil rights protect the demand to participate rather than the right of religious dissent, the protection of minority participation is at the heart of the left’s bid for equality. But this has never truly been a matter of law, but of values. The law mandates the elimination of obstacles. It does not demand that values winners and losers be chosen to achieve equality. That is a leftist bias.
The left defends imposing its values by force through outrage at selective “suffering” on the one hand and abstractions about the empowerment of participatory equality on the other. Ultimately though it cannot defend its values without reference to those values. That is typical of belief systems.
The left’s secular religion functions as a theocracy. It promises salvation through Socialism, warns that human sin will destroy the world through global warming and is engaged in a perpetual struggle against those who do not share its values. It wages war on religious freedom because it is a kind of religion.
There can be no political freedom where there is no religious freedom. Religion is more encompassing than politics can ever be. Politics addresses which policy best accomplishes a particular goal. Religion tackles the question of what the goal should be. If you don’t have the freedom to determine your own goals, then your ability to choose policies is as meaningless as some European elections.
Leftist systems seek to create “democratic” arenas in which we are free to disagree on policies, but not goals. They do this by writing values into the system so that only one sort of goal is deemed acceptable.
Deviations from the goal are not acceptable. Questioning the goal is heresy. And leads to sanctions.
Trump Derangement Syndrome, Google’s firing of James Damore and the violent attacks on conservative speakers are all examples of what happens when the goals are blasphemously challenged.
Politics is far more likely to turn violent over values rather than policy. That is why the Founders wanted politics to be confined to policy rather than values. We can rationally debate policy, but we can’t debate values. We can argue over what we feel to be true, but the revelations of our deepest selves cannot be proven. And when they are challenged, anger, hostility and even violence quickly follow.
The First Amendment helped build a system where our representatives debated what we should do, rather than what we should think. Politicians were meant to get things done, not argue dogma. The culture war we are in is less about what we should do than what we should think. The violent confrontations and clashes are not really about campus safe spaces or Confederate memorials, but how we should see ourselves. The confrontations are meant to be both polarizing and clarifying.
They’re a religious war. The left has established its religion. And violence against heretics swiftly follows.
America is in the midst of an ugly conflict because our political system was hijacked by the Church of the Left. The legislative and judicial hijacking of our system has turned our politics into a culture war. To end the conflict we must return to a true understanding of the First Amendment. It is not the role of government to tell us what to think or what to believe. And any government that embarks on such a totalitarian enterprise will tear apart our society and destroy our way of life.
As the left has been doing.
Restoring the Constitution and ending the violence will require unwriting the left’s values from our laws.
An antisemitic flyer found on the University of Houston campus on Tuesday. Photo: Michael Leone / Facebook
Dozens of flyers and stickers promoting neo-Nazi propaganda were found at the University of Houston (UH) this week, the latest incident associated with an increase in white supremacist activity on campuses nationwide.
The flyers, found on bulletin boards, walls, trash bins, and lamp posts at the university’s main campus on Tuesday, included phrases such as, “Beware the International Jew” and “Imagine a Muslim-Free America,” according to a statement shared online by UH’s chapter of the Young Communist League (YCL).
IDF soldiers make a blessing on the traditional Jewish custom of apple and honey to welcome Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. (ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) said they will provide $1.5 million in annual Rosh Hashanah “Fellowship Gift Cards” to 12,000 IDF soldiers marking the upcoming Jewish New Year.
The initiative, coordinated in collaboration with the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers and the LIBI Fund, will provide more than 10,000 lone soldiers and soldiers $140 gift cards. Another 2,200 soldiers will receive gift cards worth $100.
The cards “will allow the soldiers to celebrate the New Year without the burden of financial stress,” the organizations said in a statement Wednesday.
Gaza-based terror group says it will agree to Palestinian Authority conditions on forming joint government and holding elections
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, center, and spokesman Fawzi Barhoum attend a protest in Gaza City on July 22, 2017, against new Israeli security measures implemented at the holy site, which include metal detectors and cameras, following an attack that killed two Israeli policemen the previous week. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
For the past week or so, Iranian official media and social networks have been abuzz with anecdotes woven around a football match in Tehran between Iran and Syria and the light it might shed on a complicated relationship.
According to most accounts, a group of Syrians flown in by special charter to cheer their national squad in its bid for a place in the World Cup in Moscow staged an anti-Iran demonstration in the stadium. The Syrian contingent included young ladies who refused to wear the Iranian-style hijab.
Their presence in the stadium highlighted the fact that no Iranian woman is allowed to attend a football match after a fatwa by the “Supreme Guide” that women watching young men running around with bare legs might cause “undue excitement”
An Orthodox man passes a British guard in London, UK. (drserg / Shutterstock.com)
A new in-depth survey conducted by the U.K.-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) found that around 30 percent of the British public hold at least one anti-Semitic viewpoint.
The report noted, however, that most of the 30 percent polled also held some positive views about Jews.
Further, around 15 percent of the British public indicated they agreed with two or more anti-Semitic views presented to them, while two percent of British adults polled were found to be “hard-core” anti-Semites.
The survey was conducted by JPR senior research fellow Dr. Daniel Staetsky using face-to-face interviews and online polls.
That’s followed by the sounds of the terrorists assaulting a passenger.
“Please don’t hurt me,” he pleads. “Oh God.”
As the passengers rush the cabin, a Muslim terrorist proclaims, “In the name of Allah.”
As New York firefighters struggle up the South Tower with 100 pounds of equipment on their backs trying to save lives until the very last moment, the Flight 93 passengers push toward the cockpit. The Islamic hijackers call out, “Allahu Akbar.”.
The autumn of 2015 was unusual in almost every way on the north Aegean Greek island of Lesbos from which I am writing. There were tens of thousands of illegal migrants on the island, the native population of which was scarcely 100,000. New refugees arrived every day by the thousands.
One evening, the blue-gray sky grumbled shortly after sunset. The thick clouds blackened and rain poured down over the city with a roar. As I ran across the slippery pavement into a friend’s bar, I heard a group of five poor souls speaking Persian with a Turkic accent and running amok, seeking shelter under the eaves of a building.
Back in May, a New Orleans statue of Joan of Arc was tagged with “Tear it Down” graffiti.
Why Joan of Arc? Any famous historical figure is by definition controversial. Joan is a French national
symbol, but Shakespeare depicted her as a malicious witch. The French Quarter where the statue stands is a mostly white neighborhood. France was dealing with a controversial election.
This is what happens when you open a can of historical, religious and nationalistic worms.
Regarding the question that forms the title of this article, I truly believe that the answer is “yes.” It is my belief that Christian Zionism is as obvious a sign of the beginning of the redemption of Israel as are the ingathering of millions of Jews to the land of Israel and the existence of the State of Israel itself. But there are many people who don’t share this perspective.
In the Jewish community, there are still many who are wary of Christian friendship and support. Many Jews are suspicious of an ulterior motive to convert Jews to Christianity that they fear underlies this political partnership.
Last weekend, the world experienced a petrifying “wake up call” when Pyongyang test launched a hydrogen bomb. According to Yukiya Amano, director of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), Sunday’s test represents “a new dimension to the threat.” Added Amano, “I think the North Korean threat is a global one now.
In the past, people thought it was a regional one, but that is no longer the case.”
Since 1994, when North Korea decided to pull out of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), there has been a huge history of attempts to chain the North Korean nuclear beast, including efforts for military cooperation, sanctions and, of course, negotiations.